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The Episode That Criminal Minds Fans Agree Is Overrated

"Criminal Minds" captured fans' hearts on CBS with its whip-smart team of agents in the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit and penchant for imaginative serial killers. It gained a second life streaming on Netflix, which has only maintained the crime show's popularity since its ending.

With over 300 episodes in the 15-season procedural series, "Criminal Minds" fans have a lot to choose from when it comes to favorites. Certain arcs of the show's timeline stand out as particularly memorable for their emotional impact on the team, like the Reaper episodes, while other episodes are remembered for their creative plotting, startling horror movie tone, or for putting the fan-favorite Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) in exceptional danger.

But while particular episodes gain reputations in fan circles, some don't live up to said reputations. When Reddit user u/Turbulent-Coach9347 asked r/criminalminds if there were any overhyped episodes, users chimed in to put Season 10's "Mr. Scratch" at the top of the list. Although the episode is rated as one of the best of the series on IMDb, the unique proxy killer's multi-episode storyline falls flat for many fans.

The episode Mr. Scratch brings in horror movie vibes to impressive effect

"Mr. Scratch," directed by the show's very own Matthew Gray Gubler, begins with scenes more akin to an "X-Files" episode than a typical "Criminal Minds" murder: A distraught man denies murdering his wife, describing a terrifying shadowy clawed monster creeping into his house and attacking her. But that's not what happened; Hotch (Thomas Gibson) tells him that he stabbed her while she screamed his name.

It's soon revealed that there are a handful of other cases like this one and the BAU determines that someone is drugging people to give them hallucinations and trick them into killing their loved ones. The proxy killer's name? Mr. Scratch, aka the genius Peter Lewis (Bodhi Elfman). The team traces the connection between the victims back to a foster home they all lived in as small children in the '80s before being adopted. It was right around the time of the Satanic Panic — when children claimed all kinds of outrageous, scary things about their teachers, and were encouraged to do so by members of the "Believe the Children" movement. Mr. Scratch's dad went to prison because of the kids' claims and the psychologist Dr. Susannah Regan's forceful hand in it all. He kills them because they're responsible for his father's death.

At the shocking end of the episode, Mr. Scratch drugs Hotch and whispers to him in a voice akin to horror ASMR. The BAU comes to save him, but are all shot to death — until it's revealed that this is merely Hotch's hallucination. Although the FBI successfully takes in Mr. Scratch, the episode ends on a shot of a shaken Hotch, seemingly teasing that this experience is going to have a lasting impact.

Fans have praised this episode for how terrifying it is, making "Mr. Scratch" famous. However, Reddit user u/cool_banana_split wasn't so kind, saying it was overrated: "Mr. scratch 100%, was hyped because of how much people on this sub talk it up, felt meh after watching."

Fans think Mr. Scratch should have been left as a single case of the week

Reddit user u/Torrincia also called the proxy killer out as overrated, writing: "The whole Mr Scratch stuff. I found it totally overblown." Although the ending of "Mr. Scratch" seems to hint at a lasting impact on Hotch, it isn't until a full season later that we see him once more. He conspires with several other serial killers to frame Hotch for conspiracy while they break out of prison. This is the beginning of the end for Hotch: In the next few episodes, he disappears into Witness Protection with his son, because Mr. Scratch threatened them.

Thomas Gibson left the show after Season 11, but Mr. Scratch haunts most of Season 12, moving beyond revenge killing to expand upon his mind-controlling techniques and take new victims in even more complicated acts of cruelty. He escapes the BAU a few times before murdering one of them — Stephen Walker, played by Damon Gupton — and then falling to his death after a firefight.

Multiple fans on Reddit argued that Gibson's departure from the series shook up Mr. Scratch's storyline, turning what could have been an excellent arc into a disappointing end. On top of that, user u/Lauren12269 said he wasn't interesting, while u/sainraymxnd didn't like how his methods were unrealistic. But not everyone would agree. In another thread, user u/chappysnapz argued that they appreciated how overly powerful Mr. Scratch was: "Scratch is an op villian, Reid is an op hero. Personally, Scratch is my favorite unsub, BECAUSE of the fact that he was so good, and that he messed with the team better than anyone else."

Ultimately, for detractors, Mr. Scratch simply couldn't satisfy the itch.